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Energy White Paper maps Australia's powerful future

8 April 2015

The Australian Government’s Energy White Paper will deliver competitively priced and reliable energy supplies by promoting competition in energy markets, increasing energy productivity and facilitating investment in energy resources development.

Releasing the Energy White Paper, Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane said the Australian Government was delivering on an election commitment to give industry and consumers certainty in energy policy.

“The measures in the Energy White Paper will deliver stable energy policy and efficient transparent markets that give consumers information to make choices about their energy use and industry the confidence to invest,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The National Energy Productivity Plan will deliver up to 40 per cent improvement in energy productivity, reducing household and business energy costs, encouraging economic growth, as well as helping to reduce emissions.

“The productivity target will be developed as part of Australia’s post 2020 emissions reduction target, which we will take to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change this year.

“In addition to energy market reforms that give consumers information to manage their energy use, the National Energy Productivity Plan will promote more efficient buildings, transport, and equipment and appliances.

“We will work through the Council of Australian Government’s Energy Council to develop the national energy productivity policy framework to deliver the collaborative actions in the plan.

“The Australian Government will also lead work through the COAG Energy Council to support the introduction of appropriate electricity use price signals for consumers and the removal of cross subsidies.

“We will be taking an integrated approach to address challenges arising in the gas market as a result of our domestic markets linking in with international markets. This includes removing unnecessary barriers to increasing supply, ensuring adequate competition and transparency in the upstream gas market and encouraging more flexible trading arrangements through trading hubs.

“We are commissioning an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry that will look into the effectiveness of competition in the gas market, in response to ongoing concerns about market transparency. The terms of reference for this work will be released shortly.”

Mr Macfarlane said the energy sector was a major source of export earnings, with annual energy exports to reach $114 billion by 2020.

“We export around 80 per cent of our energy production and these exports totalled $71.5 billion in 2013-14 and provided jobs for around 170,000 people,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The White Paper recognises that investment, particularly foreign investment, is essential to realising the potential of Australia’s natural resources and technology innovation.

“It highlights action we are taking to adopt new technologies and promote Australia as an investment destination.”

Mr Macfarlane said the Energy White Paper will provide a framework for coherent and consistent energy policy that will enable the integration of other related policies as they are developed.

“For example, given Australia’s energy sector contributes a large proportion of our greenhouse gas emissions, Australia’s emissions reduction target after 2020 will link closely with energy related reductions.

“The development of our emissions reduction policies will build on the framework in the White Paper, to enable flexible policy development.”

The White Paper also builds on other initiatives to reduce pressure on energy prices and increase Australia’s competitiveness as a global energy supplier, including the:

  • $5 billion Asset Recycling Initiative, encouraging States and Territories to free up capital to invest in new economic infrastructure by privatising State and Territory-owned assets.
  • $188.5 million Industry Growth Centres, which will lift competitiveness and productivity in areas of competitive strength, including the oil, gas and energy resources sector and the mining equipment, technology and services sector.
  • $476 million Industry Skills Fund, building the highly skilled workforce needed to adapt to new business growth opportunities, rapid technological change and market-driven structural adjustment.
  • $484.2 million Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme, providing companies with structural and strategic support to capitalise on growth opportunities.

The Energy White Paper is available at http://www.ewp.industry.gov.au/.

Media contact: Mr Macfarlane's office 02 6277 7070